2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Second Place – Senior Category – Maine (Grades 9–12)
Riley King, 12th Grade, Ellsworth High School
I never realized where I felt the deepest connection in life until a few years ago. This place brings me so many memories, some bad and some good. This place is where I grew up, my homestead, right off Red Bridge Road in Ellsworth, Maine.
No, I do not live there currently, but it is still mine to go back to whenever I need some time to contemplate, relax, or just get away every now and then. There are logging roads to hunt, a brook out back to fish or jump in to cool off, and there are plenty of woods to just sit back and admire. This land that I have grown to love was once my father’s grandad’s and now it is his. Soon, it will be mine to maintain and raise my children on.
Growing up, I was raised hunting this land. To me, hunting this land was not just going out shooting animals, it was more than that. To me, hunting this land taught me to appreciate what was given to me. I was taught to respect this land and any other land where I decided to sit and harvest an animal. I was taught not to kill for fun because it is a privilege to be able to harvest an animal, especially off the land that is “home.” When I go back and hunt these woods, I take the time to soak everything up. I lay my head back, close my eyes, and just listen.
I listen to the wind blowing by my head and the birds singing their songs. I hear squirrels rustling in the bushes and I can hear field mice running through the leaves behind me. Off in the distance I hear the brook raging, the water crashing over the rocks, and occasionally I hear a fish suck a bug off the top of the water. While I sit there, all I smell is the fresh grass and the strong scent of pine from the surrounding trees. You do not have car exhaust or the smell of the town running up your nose. When I take a deep breath, it is more refreshing than a nice cold glass of water on a scorching hot summer day.
When I take in all of this amazing stuff, it gives me a sense of freedom and comfort that I wish everybody could feel. Knowing that this is my land to go back to is the best thing in the world. To feel that way makes me know what I want in life. I want to take all that in every day of my life. I want to raise a family the way I was raised. I want to teach my children to respect and love any land they step foot on the way I was taught. And most of all, I want to make sure that there is still land like mine for people to go to and enjoy after I am gone.